Geotourism Mapguide: A travel guide to the places most respected and recommended by locals.
  Hiking Trail or Trailhead

BLM El Malpais NCA Nature Trail

 
 
 
 
 
 

This 1.3 mile trail has three parts. The basal part starts on a gentle slope from the Ranger Station parking lot. You have the option of heading east or west to the base of the cliffs. The basal parts of the trail are gently sloped and cross two arroyos. Then things get interesting in the cliff part of the trail. The slope steepens at the cliff base, and the trail finds the easiest ascent on both the east and west ends of the loop. In places there are steps. After a few minutes those not used to the 6700 foot altitude combined with steep steps, will want to slow down and pause to enjoy the emerging views of the surrounding cliffs and the distal volcano, Mount Taylor. The top part of the trail is a terrace in the Dakota Sandstone. This is the easiest and flattest of all the parts. There is a western spur that comprises the 0.3 miles of the 1.3 mile trail. The destination is a grand cliff top view of the lava flows and some of the Chain of Craters, and to the south the Zuni Mountains, Mt. Taylor, and more of the very cliffs on which you stand.  

Watchful car passengers may have observed a white stripe on the yellow sandstone cliffs while driving. This is an ancient eroded surface atop the Jurassic Zuni Sandstone. By the time the overlaying Dakota Sandstone was deposited some 60 million years had passed. And how the climate had changed. The Zuni Sandstone was deposited in hot dry Saharan desert conditions. By the time the younger Dakota Sandstone was deposited the climate had changed from hot desert to steamy hot shallow sea. Alert travelers can spot the Dakota Sandstone in many parts of the Four Corners. Watch carefully for the change from desert to coastal sand. Which environment would you expect to be teaming with life? If you expect to find worm tubes and ripple marks from water currents, you will not be disappointed.

September through October and April through May can have a most pleasant climate. Visitation is light even during these optimal months for hiking midday. Warmer months can be enjoyed earlier and later in the day. In winter, snow can makes the steeper parts of the trail so challenging that it becomes unsafe. Please call ahead.

Birding can be interesting throughout the year and even more so during September-October and April-May migrations.

Vertical Gain or Loss: 200 feet

Trail Distance: 1.3 miles

 Pet Friendly Notes

BLM requires pets to be on a leash and personally controlled.

For More Information, Contact:

Paul Yoder

PYoder@BLM.gov
http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/rio_puerco/el_malpais.html
PO Box 846, Grants, NM 87020
505.280.2918 (Ranger St. 9a-4p)
 

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Boundaries and names shown do not necessarily reflect the map policy of National Geographic.

Latitude: 34.970269500
Longitude: -107.809996600
Elevation: 6685 FT (2038 M)
Ranger Paul
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